RE-PRINT OF A SUBMISSION
The Ontario Property And Environmental Rights Alliance (OPERA)
SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES
Bill C-32 - THE CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT, 1999
Clause 14 of this Act defines “environmental protection action” as a new civil remedy available to Canadian residents as set out in Clauses 22 to 38. Allowing members of the public (Clauses 17 to 38) to request the Minister to investigate an alleged offence may result in unfair harassment, financial hardship and/or loss of privacy for private land owners and help cause their gradual extirpation. This is the result when vindictive, mean or fanatically-minded neighbours or organizations use this type of legislated facility to advantage their own interests without having to disclose authorship or incur any risks or accountability for destructive outcomes caused by their interventions, no matter how well motivated.
Environmental protection has mostly to do with land and its treatment by public, corporate and private users. Rural land owners account for a great deal of land but they, and the organizations which may represent them, are seldom, if ever, consulted with respect to legislation such as Bill C-32. This circumstance harbours potential consequences of considerable magnitude for rural land owners, including, but not limited to, farmers and wood lot owners.
Over 3000 environmental charities (the number is rapidly increasing) now dispense Revenue Canada tax credits to donors of private land for public benefit. Classed as not-for-profit charities these organizations are also exempt from taxes on profits earned from their activities. Many operate with little supervision and no public accountability. They are unrestricted as to how and where their funds are expended such as in contract awards or employee compensation. Some pay exorbitant salaries and benefits and can easily afford to do so. The issues which almost all these eco-charities espouse appear to be fundamentally grounded on land and its associated ecological landscape. On these issues, which they purport to address if sufficient funds are forthcoming, no effort is made to distinguish between public, crown, corporate or private land.
Some eco-charities are supported and guided by active members in a democratic and transparent fashion. But most of them aggressively market an individual logo and philosophy to subscribers and donors beguiled into tendering “urgently needed” gifts of money and/or property to this or that chapter of the environmental industry. Alarmist themes not only underpin, but are essential to, the business of selling each charitable “vision”. The same motivation also fuels media strategies for attracting subscribers or viewers. Eco-charities, hand in hand with the media, now have many Canadians terrified and paranoid over manufactured or sensationalised issues which alarm donors and the public alike. The more catastrophic or bloody, or both, the better.
In the process a tremendous amount of government tax revenue that our elected representatives might be expected to use in governing Canada and which might be better applied to improve social and economic programs, is being directed to questionable environmental causes, often in the name of so-called “sustainable development” as interpreted by special interest groups.
Many private land owners in Ontario and across Canada have already experienced the stress and hardship of being disadvantaged and deprived of recourse to “natural justice” that results from unrestrained exploitation of environmental objectives. This outcome, whether intended or not, is aided by government legislation prompted by the very eco-community it benefits, usually at the private land owner’s expense and without any prior consultation whatsoever.
OPERA is concerned that private ownership of land, especially rural land, is being surreptitiously extinguished and private land assets transferred to state control by regulation without capital compensation. It is paradoxical that the value of private ownership in motivating people to create and preserve capital is being ruthlessly dissipated by uncaring or unthinking politicians, in concert with their militant eco-charity partners, in favour of global socialism which is what “sustainable development” now is all about. Marx and Lenin would be pleased!
Clauses 11 and 17 to 38 of Bill-32 as submitted aid and abet this hurtful and harmful political “drift” which OPERA considers to be permanently injurious to landowner interests. Indeed, this legislation contributes to what we see as deliberate erosion of democratic values in Canada.